Open Thread (beta version)

April 10th, 2007 | Uncategorized

(Cake recipe swapping, Favorite Beatle discussions, Mary vs. Rhoda, or anything else slightly off-topic that you care to discuss.)

195 Responses to “Open Thread (beta version)”

  1. Maggie Jochild says:

    Well, here we are, relegated to the “other room”. Since we can’t seem to stay on topic. Or keep things easy for the zero-attention-span crowd. But we’ll have fun, won’t we?

    Here’s a question that can’t be pigeonholed: Do you see art as an integral part of your everyday life or a luxury you can afford for some (define it) reason? Is there a bona fide separation between art and politics, or art and spirituality, or do you believe (as I have come to) that those separations are the result of, well, oppression? Like how quilting is “women’s crafts” instead of great art?

  2. Jaibe says:

    For what it’s worth, there is already a nice, threaded “open thread” blog about DTWOF right here:

    I’d love to see that community rejuvinate — everyone migrated here, which I think is a shame. But I don’t see how you will really be able to police this — wouldn’t that take *more* time?

  3. elteegee says:

    Rhoda, definitely. Love Mary but she was just too dorky. Rhoda was hip, and happenin’ in those silk head scarves and costume jewelry.

    Sorry, but I’ve always mostly disliked the Beatles. I know that’s considered sacrilegious by many but I tend to think it is a knee jerk reaction to being a tailend baby boomer and having it shoved down my throat as unequivocally brilliant all my life. But I do like parts of Sgt Pepper. And John, sort of, I mean – if I have to pick. But I don’t consider him some sort of latter day prophet or anything.

    Here’s a good cake recipe. Not for the squeamish.

    I just love Open Threads! 😀

  4. Aunt Soozie says:

    What’s Beta Version mean??

  5. Tera says:

    Are you a bisexual female and at least 18 years old?

    You are invited to participate in an anonymous
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    This research is being conducted by a graduate
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    Psychology/Alliant International University.

    Participation will take approximately 60 to 70 minutes

    All participants will be entered in a lottery for a
    chance to win one of two raffle prizes for $100

    If you are interested, go to

  6. Tera says:

    Does an open thread mean we can post anything? I posted a link to my research on bisexuality (above) if this is not okay, or if in your infinite wisdom decide to delete it I totally understand! I hope some people might be interested.

  7. Maggie Jochild says:

    Aunt Soozie, I think it means we beta toe the line and start behaving like all the conventional, straight blogs out there. ‘Cause making friends with each other and talking ’bout everything makes some folks feel confused. And it’s our job to take care of their feelings, not just be open and listen.

    Elteegee, the cake is awesome.

  8. Jana C.H. says:

    I, too, will miss the disorganized serendipity of this unique blog.

    I’m sorry if it was my announcement of the Seattle get-together that sparked this off. So far only Geogeek and I have showed up, but we have lively chats with just the two of us.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Dostoyevsky : Even if authority were constituted entirely for our own good, we would wish to disobey it just to assert our personalities.

  9. Linnea says:

    I have never written anything in this blog although I have read it for a while and it has become a great amusement and inspiration.
    One of the reasons I haven’t, might be that it does have a sense of prvacy to it, but more so because most people writing here are so witty and knowledgable. That can’t be bad, can it? And I like the randomness and the talk about parties I will never go to (for one thing, I live in Sweden).
    But now that I have written these sentences I do feel a bit scared to send them off…

  10. shadocat says:


    I know I will regret this in the morning, but I can’t stop myself.

    It’s your blog, and you can do what you want. If you’d rather attract new bloggers than keep the loyal regulars, I guess that’s up to you. Because that’s how this all reads to me.

    One person, who (as far as I can tell) has only posted on one day, made one suggestion, and suddenly THAT was the one that was important. The other people, who have been faithful fans for quite awhile, the ones who said, “Don’t change things”,(and the ones who probably contributed hard earned money to be a part of this thing), were discounted. Is it because we occasionally discuss trivial things, such as TV shows, or old pop singers or recipes? You know, we also discuss important matters, but evidently, not important enough.

    I like the little glimpses into your world, but once I make a comment such as “I enjoyed the bird video” (which I really did), or “I was sorry your mail got so backed up while you were on vacation” (which I really was), what else is there to say? I could make overly complimentary posts every day, but I have a feeling you wouldn’t like that. I know I wouldn’t, if I were in your shoes…

    As far as the strip is concerned, I do spend a few days discussing it each time a new one appears. But it’s hard to keep that up for two weeks. The conversation seems to naurally morph into other topics, until the next strip appears, or you post a lttle something about your experiences. Then the process begins again. And it’s a process I really enjoyed, a community of smart, funny literate people centered around a strip and an artist whose work I loved. Sometimes the conversation strayed too far afield (and I know I was one of the BIGGEST strayers). But we always managed to bring it back home again. I don’t think that’ll happen, here in the “riff-raff” room.

    Let me preface this by saying that I’m NOT saying what I’m about to say to get others to write and urge me to stay. (There–that was a mouthful.)It’s just I’m not sure I want to be a part of this anymore, if most of my conversations are going to have to take place in the blog equivalent of a “junk room” under the basement stairs.

    I’m going to have to think over this awhile–I thought we managed rather well up until now, basically self-monitoring: guess I was wrong.

  11. shadocat says:

    Linnea; I thought your comments were simply smashing! I welcome you as a fellow Scandanavian (well, half anyway–my mother’s Norwegian)

    BTW==when I think of a “beta version”, I picture something out of date, not as good, cetainly not desirable; in other words–junk. Or did I take that the wrong way?

  12. cz says:

    Beta in terms of software- is the new development that is not ready to be used for everyone, but is tested with a select group. If you are an innovator, enjoying the challenge of living on the bleeding edge of technology- beta is where you want to be.

    To say that a beta version is out of date, and junk is just so far off the mark.

  13. Pam I says:

    The livejournal site seems, when I’ve looked, to be more like an uncritical fan club. Maybe it would develop if these discussions moved to there, but it would take time and persistance.
    I’m going to throw my toys out of the pram. Waaaa.

  14. meg says:

    Stop whinging! STOP whinging! I ORDER you to stop whinging!

    Peep have mercy, children, you-all are working my last nerve. Whose blog is this, anyway? Think about it.

    We still get to see DTWOF updates before they’re in print; it’s still pretty damn interactive; and now Alison wants to try something new and see if it works. So bloody well try it. Change is not always to be feared and hated, y’know…

    *Stomping off to drink more coffee and start dealing with my tenants’ mess – if you remember, these are the folks who when the CO alarm went off, tried to dismantle it. Now they’re breaking up and breaking their lease… all very well and good riddance to bad rubbish, but I’m trying my best to work with them and get the place rented so they DON’T end up paying for the rest of the lease, and they can’t keep the place semi-presentable for showings! Sweet bleedin’ Peep, do your goddamn dishes, pick your dirty undies and bras off the floor, and try to make the place (which really *is* a very nice apartment) look like somewhere someone would WANT to live! Gimme another cup of coffee, willya? I’m gonna need it…*

  15. chewy says:

    Are the “Dykes To Watch Out For” the ones chatting up with each other here at this blog or the ones in Alison Bechdel’s books?

  16. Red says:

    Foo. What a mess. I’ve been a lurker for some time, enjoying Alison’s blog greatly, appreciating her incredible talent and relishing many of the comments left too.

    Sometimes I’ve logged in a little late and muttered ‘wooo’ when met with the ‘6436 comments’ that ensue under an entry. Much as I’d like to – I haven’t got time to read all of them. So I don’t read any. It’s great that so many exist but I can see why Alison has suggested moving them to here.

    Does it matter if it’s ‘another place’?
    Does it matter if it’s called ‘Beta’ or ‘Teresa’?

    Can’t we just come together – accept change – accept each other’s points of view – and pay respect to the person who has made this all possible – and support her when she chooses to do things a little different.

    Put it like this – how would you feel if Alison just pulled the plug on it all? It wouldn’t be nice would it? No.

    Let’s not bicker. Let’s move on – together – and support old and new members/comment writers alike.

  17. --MC says:

    “uncritical fan club”? Why, I oughtta ..
    The LJ group has been less lively than it could have for a while. Because the more lively discussions are going on here!

  18. little gator says:

    Like everyone, I have my opinion(I like it fine the way it is), but it’s not my blog. And if anyone campaigned to send us back to livejournal I’d be ok with that.

    elteegee-I only like the Beatles because I like them. While I know many other people like them too, I also know some people don’t. We’ve had no trouble with differing opinions on more important topics.

    Maybe you don’t remember the days when all teenage girls were expected to have a favorite, as if it mattered. I refused to decide until about a decade ago, and then it was more noticing how I already felt than deciding. It might have gone another way if George hadn’t created Time Bandits and Life of Brian by then.

    I am now about to out my real name. Google for “little gator” cookies. The cookies are called many names because my name of choice, Deep Shit Cookies, offends some people. Notice how my typing has improved since then.


    I’ve been little gator for 20 years now!(yike) Sometimes I mistaken for male because some see the gator as a macho beast, but I took the name from a beloved childhood toy.
    And as I tell the confused, no man ever willingly calls himself “little.”

    If you are really clever you mind find my cartoons online. The deliverate stupid spelling is an artifact of the gators and I won’t explain further.

    Pointless boomer rant-I saw a video made when Mick Jagger was about 22 and thought he looked like a teenager. Yet at the time he made it, I though of him as a grownup, which I wasn’t yet. What a drag it is getting old.

    little gator, the deep and mysterious.

  19. louise says:

    I totally bristled at that snot Cyan.
    But he clearly touched a nerve with Alison.
    One of the things I hear over and over on this blog is that we love what Alison does and we are incredibly grateful for it and that she can produce on her own terms and that she does not owe us anything.
    I guess I can’t imagine what it would be like to have hundreds of people responding in an intimate fashion to the things I post about my life. It’s not a situation where you can choose your friends. And if they bicker or sound obnoxious, or even talk about stuff I’m not interested in, what if I don’t want to deal with that? We’re not actually her friends, we’re her fans. Or even if I’m just an introverted person who would love nothing better than to feel the freedom to ignore other people when I please. Which is exactly the kind of person I am.
    Ok, here’s my thing too. I would kind of looove to be that obnoxious and critical and argumentative poster from time to time. Here, the king is in the room and we love her and are nothing but adulatory. But I don’t want her to feel like she has to play Mom if things get unruly. and things can be kind of awesome when they get unruly. And what if I want to be critical of the strip, much as I love it? Like, Jeebus, can we have one storyline that doesn’t drone on about infidelity? Can’t somebody just be happy? Oops, did I say that? I meant to say that it’s so true how Alison is God. So yes, speaking on behalf of the contingent of fans who are basically nuts, I would love a forum that is more a scary mosh pit and less a genteel party of tea and cucumber sandwiches. I guess I could take my own advice to Cyan and make my own message board. Or draw my own comic strip and see if anyone cares. But for now maybe LiveJournal is a good outlet, and it’s not “hers” so we can imagine she lurks on it if she reads it at all.

  20. Aunt Soozie says:

    Gawd…this is awesome.

  21. silvio soprani says:

    A gathering with tea and cucumber sandwiches is not all it seems. (Virginia Woolf probably consumed them regularly, and yet she could be pretty snarky!)

    If I can offer an image…to me this blog is like being Miss Marple and working in my garden where I can see everyone walking by in the village. I can choose to talk to them if I want to, and they know I am there. We are neighbors. We opt to interact and then take the consequences.

    But if I am told that I must hike to a remote corner of the village whenever I want to converse, then the spontanaeity (I don’t know how to spell that!) disappears. I cannot be assured that I will see the same faces because they pass my garden for logical reasons–to go to the post office, to walk their dogs, to go to church…and we all know where we are.

    If every time we wish to converse we must hunt out the beta room, I think that puts a crimp in it. So I don’t like the idea, but I know one must be flexible and cognizant of Alison’s needs…I am not so sure she needs this particular solution. Wait and see, I suppose.

    I suppose, to continue the analogy, my house and garden are part of Alison’s estate and I am essentially a guest, even if I do tend the flowers.

  22. Aunt Soozie says:

    Welcome! Pleasure to meet you, don’t be shy.

    Thanks for the tutorial…I figured it was some computer lingo I wasn’t up on…

    I’m not gonna beg but you better stick around or next time I see you Auntie won’t slip a quarter into your hand or give you any candy or homemade vegetarian chicken soup with matzo balls. I’ll stop working on that quilt that I’m making you out of your old castoff undergarments and your cousin’s wedding dress from her first wedding. I’ll hug you and squeeze you for a long time and I’ll say, “no, it’s alright, you don’t have to stop by more often, I’m doing fine here by myself, I’m not lonely at all. Now sit yourself down and tell Auntie how much and why you love her and all that you’ve missed about being in her company. Go on, just push one of the cats aside, they’ll move over, there’s always room for you Shado. Right here.” (pat,pat,pat..that’s me patting the sofa next to me)

    ooh, sometimes Auntie can be so egocentric…was that selfish?? I’m sorry Shado…just don’t go anywhere…I’ve enjoyed your contributions.

    And, since this is the beta open forum, Aunt Soozie wants to add one more thing…
    My beloved mentor in all things psychological once told me, when I worked on a locked psychiatric unit, to observe how the staff begin to absorb, like a sponge, the pathology that they are surrounded by daily. How they come to resemble the so called patients. How they come to behave even more outrageously than their charges. Of course, this in a setting where there was no wonderful overshadowing philosophy of healing and no healthy leadership and no supervision and no outlet for the pain and the exhaustion and the frustration of the staff…

    And I was thinking that as Chewy said…
    though we aren’t all Dykes…we aren’t even all women,
    we have become Dykes to Watch Out For.

    In a way, I want to say poor, poor Alison. It is like one of the meta strips where the characters come alive and their all bossing her around and putting in their opinions, complaining about the clothes she’s drawing them into…can’t I even get a cigarette around here, shit, this gig sucks..etc.

    Can I get a little smile outta y’all?

  23. Jana C.H. says:

    It’s easier to plot revolution over tea and cucumber sandwiches than in a mosh pit. The former is for thinking, the latter for feeling. Each to his own taste, said the man as he kissed the cow.

    I agree with Louise that one weakness of this blog is its uniformly adulatory tone. I don’t think AB would find intelligent criticism rude, but intelligent criticism is hard work (kinda like being president). It’s much easier to rave, especially when there’s so much to rave about.

    Perhaps the old format would work better if we had subject lines. Then we could say “announcement” or “OT” (off topic) or “cake” when we veer off into the blue. Those who want to stick to the strip only can skip over the oddball posts. A short request in the “Leave a Reply” section could notify newbies of the rules of going off-topic: It’s okay, but be sure to label it.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Will Cuppy: In America everybody’s conscience is unusually free. If it isn’t, we fix it. We’re funny that way.

  24. louise says:

    Is there a way that the posts Alison makes can be automatically posted on LiveJournal? Like an RSS feed?

  25. Aunt Soozie says:

    Can you hack into this blog and correct my spelling?
    Change “their” in the last paragraph, second sentence to
    “they’re”. That type of mistake really irks me.

  26. Sophie says:

    I am reminded of a passage in Shantideva’s writing about the virtues of solitude… something along the lines of,

    “Even the Buddha couldn’t please everyone.
    Why try to keep company with childish folk,
    so difficult to please?

    In woodlands, haunt of stag and bird,
    Among the trees where no dissension jars,
    It’s there I would keep pleasant company!”

  27. shadocat says:

    About the beta–I will be the first to admit I am not tech-savvy. When I read the word “Beta” the first things that came to mind were “Beta Max” and the disagreeable fish. My bad…

    Aunt Soozie-Okay–smiling (a little), But still thinking. I am actually hurt by the coldness and the disregarding attitude behind this whole thing. So maybe I AM reading this blog too much, and need to go elsewhere…Need to think a little longer…

  28. louise says:

    you read that last article she wrote about her moms right?
    sometimes genius is ruthless and will devour anything in its path. 😉 Producing something brilliant can demand audacity and selfishness.

  29. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Okay, can someone explain to me how all this works? Is there some kind of bizarre filter that relegates comments less-than-topical to the strip to this other chatroom? (And I am a bit of a technological dunderhead, but that seems impossible.) Or does it work on the premise that we are all going to determine for ourselves whether our conversation is relevant enough to be featured in the main blog? (‘Cuz I don’t see THAT working too well!)

  30. Pam I says:

    These two threads are a nice illustration of how it may or may not work to “filter” – ie this thread is meant to be about Beatle cakes, and the Clustr one for the blog discussion – now look what’s happened.

  31. Katie says:

    Hey Louise,
    If you’ll look to your right, there is an RSS Feed link between the Archives and Links area. Enjoy!

  32. silvio soprani says:

    Now if I could just figure out how to enlarge the strip on my RSS feed when I read it on my cellphone (maybe take a pill that would make ME microscopic!) …now that would be something!

    I had it backwards!! I thought all argument about the form of the blog was relegated here to the Beta (to stifle all the fuss…) and I was feeling guilty that I put it on the CLUSTR thread!

  33. Tim T. says:

    I’m still confused. If this is the “beta” thread, does that mean that the DTWOF strip itself is the “alpha”? And will there be “gamma”, “delta”,etc…down through “omega” threads? {And will the “pi” thread also include “cakes”?}
    Please elucidate, someone. Best wishes to all.

  34. silvio soprani says:

    Tim, you are definitely in the right place! 🙂

    And by the way, you know that asking for “someone” to “elucidate” may keep you busy reading their replies for the next millenium, right?

  35. Katie says:

    Hi DeLand,
    At this point, I think our goal is to let the forum ‘self filter’ to the greatest extent possible, meaning that people should pause for a moment to consider if their comment relates to the posted topic, or if it might be more appropriate for an open forum. That way, people looking for maoist cake can have their cake, and people looking for topical comics discussions can have that, too. I hope this helps a bit!

  36. judybusy says:

    All right, time for my two cents. My biggest problem with a “strip” and “beta” threads is having to toggle back and forth, and trying to find where I last left off. In the past, the conversation seemed to move along with a new post by AB, and when conversation kept up on an “old” post, it was terribly confusing and hard to keep up. That said, if this is the worst problem any of us have in our life right now, things are good.

    I am embarrassed to admit I have deleted innumerable messages from MoveOn/Planned Parenthood, etc, to do something today about the war/choice, etc, but have only done something about this blog. Why is that?!

  37. meg says:

    You know Vermont has snow predicted for the next week – for Peep’s sake, give all of us who live here a break!

  38. Dicentra formosa says:

    I, too, have been slightly confounded by the double thread. I think the end result for me will be that I stop following the conversations so much. I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like you said, there ARE all those Planned Parenthood and MoveOn messages I’ve been guiltily deleting, not to mention the other catastrophes and traumas of daily life, which probably deserve more of my time and attention than I’ve been giving them.

  39. Maggie Jochild says:

    To deal with what has actually been said, rather than a confabultion:

    AB said: “I’m worried that the familiar, in-group atmosphere here might start to have an inhibiting effect on new visitors, and I’m trying to figure out ways to avoid that.”

    Is the familiarity we’ve developed with each other, in fact, having a inhibiting effect on new visitors? I can find no post where that’s the case, and numerous posts where the opposite has been stated — that we are uniquely welcoming and curious. To my mind, this singular environment arises from three main variables: (1) The work of Alison herself, which embraces an expanded viewpoint and encourages tangents; (2) A slowly developed ethic which works to facilitate honest expression, self-responsibility, and above all, kindness; and (3) A dyke sensibility as practiced by dykes and non-dykes alike, which is the most singular thing of all. Which of those variables are problematic enough to make this draconian move? I have to say, to me it feels like listening to an outsider complaining about Lesbian culture and allow internalized oppression to take over. And, as I pointed out earlier, we are not responsible for the feelings of discomfort from those who say “this is not like anything I’ve ever seen before, make it just like everything else” or “I don’t know what to say, therefore it must be that I am somehow being excluded”. I am all for listening to the feelings of others, but I’m not stupid enough to think their feelings are always my responsibility. Not unless real oppression is taking place, or I am in a personal relationship with them and have opted to take on codependent behavior for some reason.

    AB said: “Also, I can’t always keep up with everyone’s comments. And that feels problematic since I’m personally responsible for the blog in the way I wouldn’t be responsible for a messageboard.”

    If you have a complaint about how comments are being handled here, step number one would be to ask us, who have assumed serious responsibility for handling them, for help or change instead of treating us like we are not an integral part of why this blog has become what it has become. For all you posters who have resorted to basic capitalism analogies in your replies — i.e., it’s Alison’s blog, she can threaten us/disrespect us/pull the plug all she wants, if that’s your attitude, please understand it is not ours. We operate (or have operated) as a community, not a commercial enterprise. And Alison abruptly deciding to treat us as the latter is offensive to me. To see this viewpoint revealed has left me, as Shadocat, needing to seriously reconsider my relationship not with all of you in this community but the so-called “owner” of the blog who discounts my/our contribution to this extent, for whatever reason. When someone fails to see or appreciate your contribution in a relationship, you restructure the relationship to match their comprehension. Basic 12-step theory, among other psychologies.

    We’ve emphatically told Alison she has no emotional responsibility to keep up with the comments. I hear her conflating her sense of emotional responsibility with her actual legal responsibility for what we say here. The only solution to eliminating any legal risk for her is to hire a full-time monitor who will thread and delete posts. The emotional responsibility is her problem to assume or not. But making an Open Threads alternative absolutely does not address either of those — it’s a non sequitur.

    AB said: “My first thought was to actually move the discussion to a messageboard, but that seemed a bit extreme. I like the conversations that go on here—I just don’t want them to become too closed or exclusive. So Gahlord had the idea of creating ‘open thread’ posts at regular intervals, like Daily Kos does. This would be a way of leaving a forum in place for comments and conversations that may not be strictly germane to my posts.”

    You have no fucking control over other people’s conversation. The idea that you have the right to control them is, again, disrespectful as well as delusional. And, again, please indicate where on earth you have evidence of them being closed or exclusive, and address that directly. I read Daily Kos several times a day, and I have never once read an “Open Thread” section. These are not intended for “comments and conversations” not germane, because those occur everywhere comments are allowed — these are designed to handle the extreme volume Daily Kos attracts, a volume this site simply is not generating despite all the hyperbole about “how many comments” there are — on a huge thread, we hit 300. A drop in the bucket compared to those huge commercial sites, and whoever equated the two was being disingenuous at best. Others on this thread have already eloquently addressed the confusion this non-solution “solution” has caused. And just because you cannot see how a thread remains “germane” to your posts doesn’t mean we have left your post behind. That is, if you have in fact read all the way through these threads, which I doubt and which lack of understanding is probably contributing to your mischaracterization of them. You have a right to not read them; you don’t have a right to analysis of them if you have not.

    AB said: “I know this means sacrificing some of the our lovely discursiveness.”

    And that’s the most honest part of it all. Alison, you are willing to shut us up to deal (a) your emotional difficulty in handling what this blog has become and (b) a desperate attempt to address other issues that are not, in fact, going to be solved by our silence. And when someone reduces me and my community to an object, well, I really don’t like it. Your sacrifice is also our sacrifice. And I get to say “no”. As others have pointed out, my main option in addressing this power play is to just leave. But first I needed to say what I thought.

    And, to run the risk of being accused of “whinging” by someone who then went on to complain about her neighbors — this is a LITERARY BLOG, set up by a NOVELIST whose BOOK has been described as staggeringly LITERATE and peopled by voracious READERS. What the FUCK did you expect when you came here, 10-second soundbites and flashing colors? Of course the thing is overrun by words. If don’t want to read a literary blog, then don’t, but stop acting shocked or, even worse, personally inconvenienced by all the words.

    We are not neatly compartmentalized cubbyholes in an organizational system, neither our minds nor our lives. I often do label my e-mails with a subject header that indicates SOME of the content therein, but (as those of you who’ve received them will attest) this often creates a hilarious juxtaposition of ideas. Real art, real change, real connection cannot be contained into categories. This has been the strength of this blog. I cannot express my gratitude to you all for having participated in this with me, with humor and sweetness and ferocious smarts. I get to leave my house perhaps once a week, if that, and then great pain and hardship is involved. Before this blog, I was devastatingly isolated. Giving it up is indescribably painful.

    Lastly, Dicentra formosa, nice to meet you and great choice of a handle (you gutsy gal you) (or maybe you’re a guy, doesn’t matter). Bleeding hearts welcome. Or were welcome, I should say.

  40. LondonBoy says:

    Don’t be shy, Maggie – tell us what you really think !
    ( Grin ! )

  41. LondonBoy says:


    I have pondered for a while before making this posting, and the truth is that I still don’t quite know what to say. I can see the points of pretty much everyone who’s posted here ( and I specifically include our host in this ). I think everyone is making sense, and as far as possible I think I understand where everyone is coming from.

    I think whenever we encounter a work of art we become, in at least a small way, a friend ( or at the very least an acquaintance ) of the artist.
    Alison: Although my longest direct conversation with you was just one sentence ( “would you mind signing this, please ?” ), I have come to respect you through your work, and from what I know of you through this blog and your other work I think I like you. Of course the media modulate your personality, but anyone who is as smart and human and fundamentally decent as you are can’t help but communicate this in any medium.
    All my other friends from here: I perhaps know you even less that I know Alison, but the same applies to you all. You all seem like people that I’d enjoy meeting in real life: by turn witty, charming, argumentative and kind. I won’t be able to meet you in Philadelphia later this year, sadly, but I’ll be thinking of you. It’s always a pleasure to see the comments here, whether I agree with them or not. I don’t believe we’ve had any major rows, for which I’m glad.

    I can see from some recent comments that the idea for a change in “the way we do things round here” has met a varied reception. I believe that some people have felt uncomfortable with this new idea, and this has been expressed with varying degrees of strength. I don’t have any suggestions about how to move forward productively on this, but I do know this: everyone here is trying to do the best they can, and make the most productive contribution that they can. Some other websites make the explicit provision that posters “assume good faith” about others. We have been pretty good at doing that here so far; I hope that as we move forward we can continue to do so. I value you all as my friends.

  42. Dicentra formosa says:

    Oh Maggie you recognized it! Somehow I’m not surprised, But it still just makes my day.

  43. little gator says:

    Maggie rewls!

  44. Ellen Orleans says:

    As far as I know, Beta Version means a testing version. To see what works and what does not. What’s wrong with trying this for a while and seeing how it goes?

    Personally, I don’t see what’s so different about it. I often jump between topics on this blog to see what has recently been said. To keep us with all you fine women and men (and folks that don’t like gender categories), I’ll read the Open Thread section. (I like the image of open threads, the looseness, the unraveling…). To read more focused topics, I’ll go to other sections.

    Perhaps, because this is the only blog I read, it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

  45. Thérèse says:

    Interesting counterpoint to Maggie Jochild’s post above in the current top-post at Bitch PhD…regarding the value and importance of having blog writers participate in and monitor their own comments sections – both for the sake of any given blog, and for the culture of communication that grows up around blogging generally. She’s persuasive, while the concerns of her post are different than the ones that writers here have been grappling with – I still think it relates.

    This blog does share the title of someone’s life’s work. It is a particular person’s blog. I don’t think that this is the first big change the author has made to the blog, probably won’t be the last. In addition to being a PR vehicle, this blog seems to be at least partly an experiment in an evolving mode of self-expression – an activity that anyone familiar with the author would be aware that she takes pretty freaking seriously – so, why wouldn’t it go on and evolve, so long as it continues to exist? Living, creative things evolve.

    I understand having feelings, strong feelings – about being alienated by new creative choices by an artist whose work one participates in and cares about. That can be part and parcel with being deeply engaged in the making and sharing of and being turned on by art. And, the consumer of art certainly does participate in it by making meaning of the art – right? The artist has no power over that…she has no power over how people respond to what she makes. She does have power over the choices she makes about where to go with her own evolving creations.

    If there is a social community that connects and expresses itself through the comments section of this blog – and I believe that there is one – then it makes sense to get pissed if that space is stepped on. But, the space itself was generated because of a particular creator’s choices. Sounds like people are making meaning of her most recent choice – feel rejected, among other things. When I scan over the whole body of the work here – that meaning doesn’t hold up for me but – you know, perspectives will differ.

  46. Dana from CA says:

    Boundaries do wonders people. Alison is only one person who has been inundated with email and comments and all sorts of attention. This is great for her, but also overwhelming as she has repeatedly said. Give her a frickin break. Let her take care of herself however she needs to. If that means flushing email she doesnt have the energy to answer or separating the blog comments the way she feels she needs to to protect her art or herself, it is her business alone. People you really care about, you have to support them in doing what is best for them whether it is beneficial for you or not.

  47. Pam I says:

    I don’t look at many blogs. Just checked Bitch PhD and yes i saved it to have another look one day. I think the difference with this one is that it’s not a blog for the sake of blogging – ie selfconsciously A Blog. It’s a website, initially to publish the strip, with room for comments. ie there’s new information coming in, not just new opinion. Is that different from most blogs, or am I being uninformed? What’s the difference between a blog and a messageboard? Is it all about ownership and/or moderation? And why does no-one (with seven exceptions) sign my guestbook?

  48. Deena in OR says:

    Ok, folks. Without subtracting from the discourse here, I’m going to make an offer for a release valve.

    Here’s my MySpace page URL

    This is intended to be a D2WO4 friendly space…but to provide another outlet for those of us who hang out here and socialize. Cross talk is presumed/expected/acceptable. That way, if it really appears that a particular topic is going far afield, we can refer the thread to a new blog topic on the myspace page. I don’t use my page much now at the moment anyway, except to blow off steam about my housemate. A positive vibe would be a good thing. (Sorry, Martha 🙂 You are all welcome.

    Heading over there now to open the first blog thread…

  49. Deena in OR says:


    Please, please, please don’t think I’m stealing your thunder! I just want to offer a place to take some of the pressure off your pages. I’d love to have you there as a friend, actually. Fun Home is.


  50. liza says:

    Deena, I went to your site but I couldn’t figure it out. Sorry, but the format is new to me and I found it confusing. From what I’ve seen, Blogspot offers some nice simple design templates that are easy for the reader to follow and use, and you can post images etc. in an easy to read fomat. I’m sure there are additional more sophisticated blog options that just as accessible as myspace. People who have them say they are pretty easy to set up. I haven’t tried, so I don’t actually know.

  51. Deena in OR says:

    Liza and others…

    try this link instead. It takes you directly to the blog, rather than my MySpace home page.

  52. Ian says:

    I always understood the accepted convention of any message board or blog comments was that the webmaster/mistress (terms invented by geeks – don’t blame me for the sexist connotations) set the rules for commenters/posters to follow and if you don’t like it – tough! It’s not generally seen as a democracy! 😉 Whether that’s right or wrong I don’t know.

    If AB wants us to comment on the work, should she only post work-related stuff and not tell us about holiday dramas and overflowing email inboxes? It’s about her working life, but hardly profound discussion of her artistic output. It’s her blog – that’s for her to decide. Blogs and message boards are ultimately the property of the owner/creator like any artistic work.

    I have seen comments on the blog that some people are intimidated and confused by the seemingly random stream-of-consciousness style discussions that take place. I personally enjoyed them but I can understand people not wanting to sift through maoist cake discussions.

    Beta is a technological term for testing. It’s the second prototype after initial tests, and is almost the complete article. When a blog generates hundreds of words of comments about a single Greek word there are lives to be found … 😉

  53. Deena in OR says:


    I’ve always liked “webspinner” myself.

  54. Jana C.H. says:

    The Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society has a web diva. A male, of course, would be a divo.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH: Do whatever you like with Wagner, but mess with Gilbert and Sullivan and you die!

  55. elteegee says:

    As a newcomer, I’ll just say that I’m a bit disappointed not to see more weighing in on the Mary/Rhoda controversy, personally.

    As for the rest of the many long responses, having absolutely no context or history my first response is – go make your own blog if you don’t like how AB is running hers. This is her blog, she can do what she likes. And if you feel unhappy with how she runs it, you can start your own and run it how you like. That is the beauty of the Internet!

    Blogs are not a collective or a community. Contentiousness is inevitable. The only thing you can count on is that if a blog gets popular enough, people will be using the f word in anger before too long.

    So I think that means this blog has arrived! Congrats AB!

  56. Dicentra formosa says:

    Contentiousness is inevitable? Sounds like the very definition of a collective, community, or relationship…

  57. LondonBoy says:

    I think one of the reasons I like this place is because the “f-word” is rarely used here. It’s rather nice to be in a place where we prefer to use words like “confabulation” and “cattywompus”.

    As for the great Mary/Rhoda debate, please count me as a Rhoda kind of person. Not sure quite why, except maybe that I seem to remember liking her mother.

  58. meg says:

    Yesterday I saw a hawk perched on my back fence (this is in Burlington proper, folks!),turning per head around in curious circles; today a bright red cardinal flashed through the gently falling snow. At seven am on April 12th, in Vermont.

    My poor plants!

  59. meg says:

    And ‘kid’s table’? Why not try to think of this as the “kitchen” (where all the really cool conversations and recipe swapping is taking place) instead? Reframe, if you can.

    I really don’t understand the huge amounts of controversy and ill will that this is generating. If this change is such a big problem in your life, you should be thanking your lucky stars, IMHO. From what I see, Alison is asking us to self regulate by taking the more discursive posts off among the adults in the kitchen, so as not to frighten the children (or overwhelm the reality in general).

    So, c’mon, give it a try… have a cup of coffee or some tea if you’d rather, lean up against the counter or pull up a slightly battered chair and trade recipes and stories and weather reports with the folks all around you. Check out the magnets on the fridge – look! I’ve got the DTWOF set from waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back, and the mugs too! – and the bravely blooming geranium on the windowsill. Looks like it might need water, huh?

    Ooops, the brownies are about ready to come out of the oven; skootch over a bit so I can get them, willya? Give them a bit to cool, and the chocolate will do you a world of good, really it will. It’s organic, y’know.

    And what were you saying about not liking it here? And do you really think these jeans make me look chubby? 😉

  60. liza says:

    elteegee- the best blogs are, in fact, a community. It’s what makes them alive.

    Blogs without community are just marketing devices or diaries.

  61. mulierebus says:

    Does anyone actually prefer Mary to Rhoda? I can’t imagine that. I mean Mary seems nice and all, but she’s a nervous type that seems to need a lot of taking care of. She always got through it in the end, but she wasn’t tough like Rhoda.

    I think this open thread flap is no big deal. We can handle it, and I doubt it will materially change things here. If anyone actually leaves the group, I feel like they’d be missing out on so many future brilliant witticisms that it would be their loss.

  62. mulierebus says:

    On the bird-watching tip: I saw four vultures circling over a particularly tacky section of route 1 in Saugus, Mass. It was strange. We couldn’t imagine what they were there for.

  63. meg says:

    Muliebus – I’m betting they were there for the wake, meself.

    And we didn’t have TV when I was growing up, or not enough to say so, so I’ve no real opinion on the Rhoda vs. Mary topic. I feel *so* undereducated!

  64. little gator says:

    Mary/Rhoda? Maybe there have been few responses because everyone(who has said so far) prefers Rhoda.

    Rhoda is a grownup with a sense of humor, and Mary acts like a boring whiny child.

    So lets get to the ones people have differing opinions of:

    Mary Ann or Ginger?

    Jennifer or Bailey?

    Carolyn Jones or Angelica Huston(as Morticia)

  65. LondonBoy says:

    I’m not sure I recognise all these references ( being on the other side of the Atlantic and all ), but here are my interpretations:
    – Mary Ann Singleton ( from “Tales of the City” ) vs. Ginger ( from DTWOF, of course ) ? I pick Ginger every time !
    – Jennifer Aniston or Beetle Bailey ? Beetle Bailey, no contest.
    – Carolyn Jones or Angelica Huston ? Carolyn Jones, on the grounds that anyone who wants their tombstone to say “she gave joy to the world…” deserves a medal for braving the inevitable graveyard graffito “… when she finally got here”. ( Also, her Morticia is definitive. )

  66. little gator says:

    Mary Ann or Ginger form Gilligan’s Island

    Bailey or Jennifer from WKRP

    Both Morticias are so superb I could never choose one.

  67. --MC says:

    Speaking of Ann B. Davis, the loveable maid from the “Brady Bunch” show, I am sad to report that I just read, in a book about the evangelical fight to take over the American government and spread misinformation about science to the schools, that Ms. Davis has been hiring out as a speaker at creationist rallies. So has Gavin McLeod, the bald Murray from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”.

  68. Pam I says:

    The TV Addams Family never got within my radar. But Angelica Huston – she can come and share a maoist cake with me any time. There’s a frame at the beginning of the first AF movie where she suddenly opens her eyes from a coffin-bound sleep, in big closeup. I still remember the hairs on the back of my neck going vertical – and it wasn’t fear that caused it.

    Unless they are _very_ good actors, I can’t see any of that crew going creationist. PLease don’t tell me if they have.

  69. meg says:

    Wednesday. I wanna be her

  70. Suzanonymous says:

    Just scanning, but my impression is it is so weird the way people think they have squatters’ rights here.. I know there is a strong human tendency to claim spaces we’ve held for some time (hence the UK’s laws on squatter’s rights). But I think it’s an instinct to try to curb when you actually don’t own the place. I also don’t see what’s wrong with LiveJournal. Having threaded comments really cuts on sifting through stuff you aren’t interested in.

    Well, so many opinions aired, I thought I’d speak up.

  71. silvio soprani says:

    Definitely Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island.

    I never watched WKRP.

    BOTH Morticias, and Pam, I second your emotions about Angelica Huston. (Not for nothing was her father a great director…definitely some good genes operating there…and she is probably one of the few actresses to equal and/or surpass her predecessor in a remake.)

    Now “Wednesday”…can we talk about Christina Ricci in the re-make–remember her HUGE forehead? Where has it gone? (Can you have plastic surgery to shorten your forehead?)

    Have you seen her as a blond in that latest movie with Samuel L. Jackson where she is changed to the furniture wearing her underwear? I have only seen the coming attractions, and it is supposed to be a good movie, but just from the few scenes in the trailer, it looks a bit exploitive. But she sure was fearsome as Wednesday!

  72. mulierebus says:

    Open thread sounds kind of boring. Can we name it something else…like free form, no that’s boring too…kitchen sink…olio…imbroglio…panoply?

  73. Jana C.H. says:

    I like the Kitchen Sink. It might be a good idea if new Kitchen Sinks were started occasionally, when the old one gets piled so high with dirty dishes that one can’t find the bottom.

    Mary Ann, no contest. Though now that I’m older I find I appreciate the nuances of Mrs. Howell.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor.

  74. shadocat says:

    Well, I’ve been thinking…And I can see some are trying to make the best of a bad situation.

    But truthfully, for me, it’s a bit unbearable to watch this blog turn into this…creation, for lack of a better word. We’ve been forced to chop our conversation in two. Instead of a lively conversation, where topics ebb and flow from the serious to the mundane and back again, we have…this.

    I agree with Liza–a blog without a community is just a marketing device.

    And I agree with Ian–the postings about Alison’s daily life are hardly springboards for meaningful or long-lasting conversation, let alone topics that stimulate discussion of the “artistic condition”.

    Finally, I must defend Maggie in her use of profanity. Strong opinions com from strong emotions.Strong emotions begat stong launguage. And this ain’t the first time I’ve read the word “Fuck” on this blog, and it probably won’t be the last.

    For those of you who think we need to “lighten up” or “give her a frickin’ break” as someone said; Alison wanted to try this, I assume to see how we felt about it. I thought I was pretty clear about how I felt about it, but maybe this will further clarify how I feel—

    How do I feel about the “new blog”?

    I fucking hate it.

  75. old fan says:

    this is funny. even with the open thread every other entry has as much comments and thoughts going on as ever! still it’s a good blog and for me who is a reguar and loyal “only reader” very valuable. keep up the good work Alison AND all you other loyal readers/ bloggers!

    and maybe you wnat to check out this:

  76. mulierebus says:

    kitsch-n-synch? 😉

  77. mulierebus says:

    Arrrgh!awful emoticons!

  78. Joanna says:

    I’ve only posted a once before this, but I have been a daily-reader for a number of months now. I have learned sooo much from the wild and wonderful variety of discussions on this blog – most of which sprang from ‘out of nowhere’. The randomness of the flow is what drew me in, and what keeps me comming back. Maggie and Shado – I for one (and I’m sure many others) will greatly miss both of your presences if you decide to leave. I feel so fortunate to have been able to (for lack of a better word) know you both even for this short time and in this rather odd way – THANK YOU and be well.

  79. Olivier says:

    As someone who’ve read this blog for at least a whole year I just wanted to say that Silvio said it best, with his garden metaphor, and that I am in strong sympathy with Maggie, too. We were a bit like a community of hunter-gatherers or an itinerant caravan, staying in one place for a while, “anchored” by AB’s latest post, then moving on en masse to the next spot. Having multiple tracks will profoundly alter the character of the place, so it’s not “a little experiment” (well, it’s an experiment but not a little one).

    Lastly, if AB’s concerns are of a legal nature, then she should take legal advice first and foremost. She gives no indication that she did and tinkering with the format will not, in and of itself, lessen any liability, especially when it’s all still taking place under the roof of

    PS: Maggie, yes there are open threads on Daily Kos: as luck would have it there are no fewer than 4 of them on the home page right now but in my opinion Daily Kos is such a different beast that it’s not very relevant: for one thing multiple editors have the authority to initiate threads there and do, i.e., it’s not a personal blog.

  80. Olivier says:

    “in strong sympathy with Maggie”… and Shadocat, of course!

  81. ksbel6 says:

    Here’s a new one for you all…has anyone ever been to Eureka Springs, Arkansas? I heard it is a gay friendly town and a nice place to visit.

  82. Aunt Soozie says:

    Hmmmm…well, I say Ginger…
    I seem to remember Maryann was too much of a namby pamby.
    At least Ginger knew herself and what she wanted and that silverish dress she always wore was fabulous!

    didn’t really know those folks from WKRP and can’t really comment on Angelica as Morticia but I liked the original series as a kid.

    I had heard that about Ann B. Davis quite some time ago..but Gavin McLeod? Wasn’t he the captian on the Love Boat? Was he Murray and the Captain too…same guy ? Hmmm…that’s a disappointment, Murray was so level headed!

    Okay…off to do long overdo chores…

  83. silvio soprani says:

    Okay, I’m back from my overdue chores…

    Olivier,glad you liked my garden analogy; I liked your caravan/hunter-gatherer one as well. Any by the way, my haircut must be workin’ for me on this blog, ’cause I am a Dyke (a female one!).

    Shado, I am trying to make the best of the situation, because I have a deep seated feeling that the turbulence is temporary. Alison may be the roots of this blog, but I do think that we all are the blossoms. (Should one blush when one says that?)
    So I think the true nature of this blog will prevail.
    Consequently, like the willow, I am attempting to bend with the breezes, so as not to snap.

    LondonBoy, I must confess that I feel as you do–I like being around people who don’t use the F-word all the time. My children have been trying to talk me out of this preference for years (they are now past their teens), telling me it should not put me off, but I can’t deny that it sets up a rather hostile atmosphere.

    But, as you said about Maggie (and yourself),”strong emotions beget strong language.” Well, I personally do not operate that way, but I can make allowances for people I am devoted to–a certain “different strokes for different folks” philosophy. But it is a question of accumlation, I suppose.

    And of course, sometimes anger is appropriate and effective . So I am not faulting any of us for the occasional word or two.

    To change the subject slightly, did anyone else watch the footage of the Rutgers’ Women’s Basketball coach and her player, Essence, and have their breath just taken away by the dignity, accuracy, and patience they displayed? (regarding the crudeness of Don Imus) They both hit just the right note of “This was wrong, I am angry, but I know how to use words and let my emotions empower rather than disempower me.”

  84. Louise says:

    I comment from time to time on this blog, but mostly I sit back and read. (Just so y’all know, I’m a different Louise than the louise with a small “l” who posts). I too am distressed at the idea of dividing the conversation between comments about Alison’s work and comments not having to do with her work. Where do you draw the line?

    Any strong dichotomy has this problem–black/white, gay/straight, male/female. In some cases it’s obvious, in others it’s not. Just go back to the MWMF discussion and you’ll see what pain and heartache this arbitrary line sets up for folks who don’t live comfortably at either end. It’s oppressive and downright dangerous.

    Granted, deciding to post on one thread or the other is not nearly as dire as that, but I think it needlessly divides this rollicking, lively ongoing conversation. I see it as a milder form of the same way people get divided and categorized all the time. It doesn’t serve people, it serves organization and control.

    I’m an artist too, and I know that once my work leaves my studio, it takes on a public life of its own. I want my work to engage people, to remind them of things in their own lives, to make them want to have conversations with other people. I won’t have much, if any control, over that conversation. But I figure if what I put into my work is honest and heartfelt, then what grows out of it will also have good energy. If my painting and writing cause people to connect with each other in a way they might not otherwise, then my time has been well spent.

    Alison’s work is the essence of good energy, which is why we all love it so much, and why this blog has grown to be the wonderful community it is.

    I’ve never gotten any sense whatsoever that it’s closed, that “outsiders” aren’t welcomed. I’m not a frequent poster–if I feel like I have something to say, I’ll say it. If not I’ll just sit back and enjoy what others say. Shadocat and I got into a mild tussle about the term “trophy wife” back when, and I learned a lot from what she wrote, and from the others who chimed in.

    I don’t see the difference between discussing Alison’s work, cake recipes, cat stories, Beatle-crushes, Mary/Rhoda, politics, sexuality, the art world, transgender issues, etc… The genius of this blog, and of any great coversation, is that it all weaves together. If I had to decide whether to follow the cake recipe thread or the latest strip thread or how to celebrate you 50th birthday thread, I might just quit reading because I think that categorization is really boring and a pain in the butt.

    I’ll end with this, because I do have a strong opinion about the “Bitch PhD” comment. I think it’s wildly unfair to Maggie Jochild. Maggie took the time to deconstruct sentence by sentence what Alison had written, and gave her own thoughtful, nuanced responses. And yeah, she’s also pissed and let it show. That’s actually OK. As she so elegantly put it, we have no responsibility to take care of her feelings or anybody else’s feelings. So we can just let that go, and take a good look at her thinking. There’s a lot to chew on in what she wrote. Agree with it or not, her post just wasn’t a bitch session, and it wasn’t a bunch of academic jargon.

  85. louise says:

    what’s up Louise! holla 🙂

  86. louise says:

    What kind of an artist are you if you don’t mind my asking? I have a pastel piece in my first real show… thinking about what I want to do after graduation, trying to decide between keeping my boring day job with health insurance and producing whatever I want in my free time, looking for graphic design positions (but I get very OCD about fonts, I spend ridiculous hours on, or going for the masters degree so I can have like credibility or something, though at this point I think about writing a thesis and I’m like hell to the no.

  87. Pam I says:

    Louise, BitchPhD is a blogger, at in case this wasn’t clear. Her second post there is about moderating blogs and the vile and violent things that happen in that other blog world.

  88. Louise says:

    Pam I, thanks for the clarification! OK, I’ll step down from my soapbox on that one.

    Though I still stand behind Maggie and her comments. I haven’t noticed any comments from her since that last one–I sure do want her around.

    louise!!!! what’s up! Don’t you love our name? I do. There aren’t a whole lot of us around, but just enough to make things interesting. I’m a painter, and mostly I paint imagined landscapes. Congratulations on having a piece in a show. That’s awesome. What kind of stuff do you do?

  89. little gator says:

    Anonymous who wants a screen name-If your name is Louise, I can’t help you. But otherwise you could be NotLouise.

    I once knew a Robert who disliked the name Bob, but tolerated beign called NotBob.

  90. Aunt Soozie says:

    louise, honey,
    please tell me that you don’t have to WRITE a master’s thesis to get an MFA in drawing/painting/sculpture, etc. You just have to hang one, so to speak…right?

    and Silvio…I thought you were a girl…

  91. Deena in OR says:

    Sigh…if you limit me to sixties icons, I’m out of luck. But Norah Jones, Julianna Margulies, Mia Kirshner and Maura Tierney make me melt. My boss keeps putting her new Norah CD on the sound system at work and makes it impossible for me to concentrate on my pill pass. (naughty grin)

  92. Dicentra formosa says:

    Aunt Soozie,
    You often have to write AND hang a thesis for that MFA in drawing/painting/sculpture. Depends on the particular program. Weird, huh? After all, biologists don’t have to frame their petri dishes, and mathematicians don’t have to sing their formulas (formulae?). Sometimes it’s better not to think too much about these things.
    Little Gator,
    Got my screen name. Thanks muchly for the suggestions.

  93. louise says:

    ooo imaginary landscapes, like Dali? Thomas Cole and the Hudson River school are awesome too. I have done some Japanese brush painting and one landscape artist I like is Kaii Higashiyama, his paintings are lovely and ghostly.
    My recent kick is painting delicious fruits and vegetables. I was trying to do a painting a day thing over the summer which was really more of a painting a couple of times every few weeks or so thing. Then school started. But here’s a little blogger page I made under an alias. (The tomato is the one that got into the show)

  94. judybusy says:

    ksbe16, a while ago you asked about Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I’ve been there once, just for a day (my dad lives across the border in MO) and thought it lovely and charming. I would go before it gets too hot, unless your idea of perfect weather is 100 (F!) degree heat and humidity to match. I can’t speak to the GLBT-friendliness of the place though. Lots of pretty architecture and shops to poke around in. Enjoy, if you go!

  95. Silvio Soprani says:

    Aunt Soozie,

    I am a girl.

    The reports of my not being a girl have been greatly exaggerated (apologies to Mark Twain.)

  96. Pam I says:

    louise, on the subject of fruit + vegetables – one of my alltime favourite photo books is The Plant Kingdoms of Charles Jones, some images at . A late-victorian-onwards gardener and botanist and photographer, he makes beetroots and piles of potatoes look sexy. Shot on 10/8 and immaculately printed + gold toned. There’s a great story behind the book on that link; see if Madwimmin can find you a copy, it’s inspirational. Or perhaps I’m easily inspired by sheer technique combined with obsessive subject matter.

  97. judybusy says:

    Silvio, too funny! I remember how before I knew the truth I had quite a dashing picture built up of you as the suave, handsome, distinguished Italian guy. Now, you’re equally appealing, especially with the short hair cut. Are you keeping it short, or are you on the growing plan?

    Pam I, yes, Jones’ work is stunning, isn’t it? Thank godde for the obsessives in our lives!

    BTW, I was the German film The Lives of Others the other night and would highly recommend it. I’ll leave it at that, or I’ll never get to the lunch-time work-out much less my job!

  98. ksbel6 says:

    Actually, I teach math and I make my students sing the quadratic formula to the tune of pop goes the weasel. So some of us do sing our formulas 🙂

  99. Olivier says:

    Silvio, I am very sorry that I dragooned you into our ranks! I should have remembered you were a girl.

    Louise (with a capital L), that was another great post, even though you got the Bitch Ph.D. comment all wrong 😉

    And since JudyBusy mentioned The Lives of the Others, for those who are curious and cannot watch the movie, there is a good commentary on it in the March 22 issue of the London Review of Books; it is even available online. But don’t read it if you plan to go and see the movie, as it’s a spoiler.

  100. Tim T. says:

    To Louise the tomato painter:
    It’s gorgeous! I thought it was a *BUTTERFLY*!!

  101. Dicentra formosa says:

    ksbel6, If I’d learned a song for the quadratic formula maybe I’d remember the thing. I hope your students appreciate it!

  102. katherine says:

    i have no idea who any of you are or what this blog site is about but on the topics of cakes i would encourage you all to make a tres leche cake. heaven. i guarantee.

  103. Pam I says:

    Katherine, we need the recipe. Please post one, or a link if you have one. Is leche like louche? I like the sound of that.

  104. Pam I says:

    Oh no ! – “End a great Mexican meal with a piece of this rich, moist cake.” Did Mao ever make it to Mexico?

  105. Pam I says:

    Sorry that was a bit clubbable -if incomprehensible to Katherine + other recent arrivals, the cake discourse began here: , it then went a bit surreal but I cant find the next link as it’s 3 hours past my bedtime already.

  106. Jana C.H. says:

    It was the Trotskyist key lime pie that turned up in Mexico, with an ice pick through the recipe.

    The subject of Trotsky came up on a Smirking Chimp blog the other day. I added my small comment and put “Trotskyist Key Lime Pie” in the subject line, though I wasn’t discussing desserts of any sort. Nobody asked me what I was talking about. Smirking Chimp is nothing like as much fun as this blog.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Hannah Arendt: Lenin differed from Stalin and Trotsky in that Lenin would occasionally admit to having made a mistake.

  107. QKelly says:

    Yeah, I preferred Mary to Rhoda. Mary was a rule-follower; so am I. For the most part, anyway. For lots of people in my generation (born late 50s), such an admission is tantamount to declaring oneself repressed and rigid and unspontaneous (horrors!) and judgmental and . . .a “boring child,” I think someone said. None of the above, my friends. You’d be amazed how radical it’s possible to be within the context of rules. Kinda like living in a sonnet. Breaking rules just to break them,as many do. . .THAT seems to me to be the childish thing. Some rules have to be broken, of course. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to know where the lines are drawn, or even living within them if you can do so in good conscience.

    Jennifer or Bailey? Bailey, no contest

    Jones or Huston? Neither. Morticia never “spoke French” to me, if you get my drift.

    Ginger or Mary Ann? Never cared much one way or the other, really.

    Who *does* wave my flag? Give me Barbara Stanwyck in black western gear. With whip. Or or a sweaty Captain Janeway in a tank top with a Big Gun.

    Gee, it’s fun here at the kids’ table.

  108. Silvio Soprani says:

    Olivier, no problem!

    Judybusy, hello! regarding hair–I am enjoying the super-short experience and I find it very calming.

    I am surprised to stil find people on this thread how many days later…

    QKelly, it has taken me many years to appreciate Barbara Stanwyck. She shares a particular quality with Andi McDowell–both of them just rub me the wrong way…but I think you are on to something about the black western gear…Stanwyck certainly had a flair…

  109. Deena in OR says:


    Mary or Rhoda? Mary…but I’m a caretaker by nature.
    Ginger or Mary Ann? Mary Ann, for sure.
    Bailey or Jennifer…Bailey. I pretty much *was* her in the ’80s.

    So, now, the 2000’s equivalents…
    Karen or Grace?
    Katie Couric or Ann Curry?
    Bette or Tina?
    Alice or Shane?
    Randi Rhodes or Rachel Maddow?

  110. rin says:

    i can’t believe it hasn’t come up, but oh man, betty or veronica?

  111. Deena in OR says:

    Veronica. I don’t do high maintence any more.

  112. Deena in OR says:

    AAAgggghhh…I meant Betty. Or maybe it was a Freudian slip???

  113. anothervoice says:

    Geeeeez people. As a longtime onlooker I have to say I’m thoroughly mystified by the angered and insulted tone many of you have taken with Alison following a simple suggestion. Did she give you any reason to feel that your input was not welcome or valued? All she did was suggest that conversation not about the trip take place in a forum not about the strip THAT SHE WILL PROVIDE. She did not ask you to leave or stop talking, just to use another forum that she would set up. Sounds pretty reasonable to me…

  114. Deena in OR says:

    With all due respect, anothervoice, I’m not sure that lecturing people while emotions are running high is going to be very constructive or helpful. Just sayin’….

  115. Meghan says:

    I meant to post this when the Trotskyist Key Lime Pie was first discussed, but better late than never. Straight from the W. Street Commune with support from our comrades on C. Lane: Trotskyist Key Lime Pie


    1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
    2 Tablespoons sugar
    5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
    4 large egg yolks
    6 Tablespoons fresh or bottled key lime juice
    1 cup very cold heavy cream


    Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch pie plate.
    Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl with a fork until well combined. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Transfer pie plate to a rack. Leave oven on.
    Whisk together condensed milk and egg yolks in a bowl until well combined. Add juice and whisk until well combined (mixture will thicken slightly).
    Pour filling into crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool pie completely on a rack (filling will set as it cools).
    Refrigerate pie, covered, for at least 8 hours.
    Just before serving, beat cream in a medium bowl until it just holds stiff peaks. Spread pie with cream.

  116. mk says:

    I like this open thread. I’ve seen them work very well in a lot of places. I say let’s try one every few days and test it out for a few months.

  117. anothervoice says:

    Didn’t mean to lecture – just to express my reaction. I feel like most of the lecturing on this thread was being directed at Alison… and with much less empathy! Just encouraging people to have some perspective on her suggestion…

  118. Joanna says:

    Rachel Maddow for sure!

  119. LondonBoy says:

    Nice pie recipe – very similar to the one my brother used last week ( though we can’t get key limes on this side of the Atlantic, so had to use ordinary ones ). Graham crackers don’t exist over here, so were replaced by digestives ( sweetmeal ), which worked reasonably well, though was a little too sweet for my taste.

    You can use the left-over egg whites to make meringues, of course. A good trick with meringues is to sandwich them together not with ordinary double cream ( equivalent to thick cream in the US, I think ), but with double cream to which you have added passion-fruit juice ( enough that the cream goes a nice not-too-intense mandarin-orange colour ). This cuts the sometimes excessive sweetness of the meringues. ( So far as I know, this is original to my mother – I certainly haven’t seen it elsewhere, and nothing showed up just now in the first couple of pages of Google. ) Anyway, try it sometime, and see what you think.

    Does the moist orange cake still have its own blog ? We could add these ideas to it…

  120. CC says:

    >You have no fucking control over other people’s
    >conversation. The idea that you have the right to control
    >them is, again, disrespectful as well as delusional.

    Whereas there’s nothing disrespectful about calling someone’s ideas “delusional.”

    I’ve come into this late, but I’m certainly one of the people who doesn’t comment on this blog because of the volume of unthreaded comments. It’s not so much that I’m annoyed at the sheer volume of off-topic chat as that I’m not part of it, and by skimming past it I’m afraid that I’ve overlooked some on-topic comment that’s relevant to what I’d say.

    The vast majority of online communities have some sort of division into topics; people in general do fine at navigating several sub-forums containing multiple threads, so I’m surprised that so many people would consider it a hardship to watch two threads instead of one.

    I do not get a sense of a wonderful, welcome community from reading through this entire thread and seeing the sheer vehemence of the abuse directed at Alison Bechdel for suggesting that her site’s primary purpose be separated from its secondary purpose.

  121. Deena in OR says:

    Kind of amazed that it’s now 5:45 PM Pacific time and there’s been no mention in *any* of the threads about Virginia Tech.

  122. Vicwa says:

    Where do I begin? “Anonymous” could become “Eponymous.”

    Aunt Soozie has demonstrated the classiest use of the word f__k, and earned my undying love for her sly wit.

    Londonboy, thanks for being.

    Deena in OR – April 17th observed as a day of silence, I hope.

    If I have just posted at the end of a dead thread…

  123. LondonBoy says:

    Vicwa: I’m not sure if it makes sense to thank me for being – I kind of can’t help that ! Let’s thank Alison for allowing us to know of each other’s existence. I’ve an uneasy feeling that things here are changing in a way that will make it less easy for people like us to know of each other’s existence in future, but I’ve enjoyed the past few months. Looking at the most recent postings, I have a sense that fewer of the “regulars” are posting, and ( as someone remarked elsewhere ) it may be that some are “retired hurt”. I dearly wish the whole “open thread” saga could have been avoided, but I don’t see how. Although I’ve never met any of the other posters here ( well, not knowingly, anyhow ) I have become very fond of all of them – Aunt Soozie, Maggie, Silvio, Deena, Jana, Pam and the rest ( and I’ve surely failed to mention many others ! ), as well as Alison herself – and it’s been great to meet in one of the few places on the web where you can have a discussion without people reverting to name-calling when disagreement arises. One of the tragedies of the internet may be that it does so little to meet its promise as a place for debate and discussion, and in many places has become just another forum for monologues, insults, and deafness to alternative points of view.

    I think part of the success of this blog as a place for discussion can be attributed to its distinctively lesbian sensibility. I’m old enough to remember the great debates over “process” that ran through the lesbian and gay communities in the 1970s and ( particularly ) the 1980s: discussions on the need to develop ways of working in groups that took account of as many voices and needs as possible. To some extent what we have here is one positive result of the methodologies developed by all the “process junkies” from numerous freeform lesbian and gay groups.

    Within the context of a blog I feel Alison has been an excellent facilitator – an initiator of discussion, yes, but also a creator of a “safe space” in which this discussion can happen. By and large this, combined with the relatively good manners, kindness and open-ness of many of the participants here, has made it possible to have a virtually unmoderated discussion group that hasn’t devolved into rudeness and shouting. I feel it would be sad if this were lost. I have a slight sensation that some of the newer contributors to discussion here may have missed this point, though it’s hard for me to be sure.

    I can see from later threads that Alison is reviewing the whole idea of a blog, and her relationship to it. It will be interesting to see how things evolve. What is most important, though, is that Alison herself feel happy and unpressured. I have already posted ( in the next thread up, I think ) some suggestions. Perhaps those will be helpful. So far everyone in this community has generally tried to be polite and kind; perhaps that will be enough.

  124. Deena in OR says:

    Can you give me a link, or at least a reference, to Aunt Soozie’s occasion of classy usage? (smile) Enquiring minds with short memories want to know.

  125. Hayley says:

    Kelley Eskridge once said something in an article or interview that she had to learn to “take joy in the process, in writing for its own sake and stop looking for the product, the end result.” It is a hard lesson to learn personally but watching it unfold for all of us, including AB, is such a beautiful thing. Worth the struggle, it is the beauty of difference and voice and stretching ourselves into all kinds of beings. Also, I thing Nicola Griffith went through some of the problems when developing her mailing list through Yahoo. Might be worth a whistle.

  126. DeenainOR says:

    Vicwa-nevermind, I found it. Nice one.

  127. Sophie says:

    Darling and I went to Sweetie’s cabin for the first time this weekend. Before leaving, I bragged to Sweetie about being more of a dyke than she might think. I am not afraid of bugs or snakes, for instance. Travel light, low-maintenance, that kind of thing. She looked skeptical. I was going to show her.

    We parked the car and off we went, down a steep ledge to the lake shore with the little cabin nested among trees. Lovely. And then I boldly stepped into an area which looked like solid ground but was actually almost liquid mud. I instantly sank down, so that my big tough dykey rubber boots instantly filled up with the stuff. It made the most awful sucking sound when I tried to lift my foot up. You should have heard me squeal! Squeal like a little girl. Both Darling and Sweetie came to my rescue and it came to nothing worse than having my boots full of mud. But that was the end of my big though dyke persona.

    I wish I had the talent, time, and patience to make a sketch diary. It would be full of little arrows pointing to the ground (deceptively solid-looking), the mud lurking beneath the surface, the slimy boots, the squealing girl (me!)

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  183. BoussyQueelay says:

    Drew Barrymore is seen here picking up an iced tea from her local Beverly Hills Starbucks. She is currently preparing for a role in Everybody s Fine alongside fellow A-listers Kate Beckinsale and Robert De Niro. Which is a good thing considering she and Justin Long have just ended their ridiculously happy year long almost engagement relationship. But Drew is smiles as usual and doesn t seem the least bit phased. And her look here is not one that is the result of a broken heart, as the hippy BoHo look is one that Drew enjoys and is seen quite frequently with. She is using her quirky little hat here to hide what I am guessing may be unwashed hair, but her natural waves are still pretty and flattering to her heart shaped face. This is a great look if you like to wear your hair down but don t have time for a wash one day as the hat masks the issue completely. Drew as always looks fab, but I can t help but wonder if she was perhaps born in the wrong era?
    Welcome to the Hairstyles Top. Here you will find the latest top hair style pictures, and advice for new hairstyles: curly hairstyles, formal hairstyles, medium hairstyles, how To Hair Tips, etc. Lots of celebrity haircuts.

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